Volume 24 (2014) Issue 6 Pages 437-443
Concerns have increasingly been raised about the medical economic burden in Japan, of which approximately 20% is attributable to cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke. Because the management of risk factors is essential for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, it is important to understand the relationship between cardiovascular risk factors and medical expenditure in the Japanese population. However, only a few Japanese epidemiological studies analysing data on health checkups and medical insurance have provided evidence on this topic. Patients with cardiovascular risk factors, including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, may incur medical expenditures through treatment of the risk factors themselves and through procedures for associated diseases that usually require hospitalization and sometimes result in death. Untreated risk factors may cause medical expenditure surges, mainly due to long-term hospitalization, more often than risk factors preventively treated by medication. On an individual patient level, medical expenditures increase with the number of concomitant cardiovascular risk factors. For single risk factors, personal medical expenditure may increase with the severity of that factor. However, on a population level, the medical economic burden attributable to cardiovascular risk factors results largely from a single, particularly prevalent risk factor, especially from mildly-to-moderately abnormal levels of the factor. Therefore, cardiovascular risk factors require management on the basis of both a cost-effective strategy of treating high-risk patients and a population strategy for reducing both the ill health and medical economic burdens that result from cardiovascular disease.